WASHINGTON IS ESCALATING THE ORCHESTRATED UKRAINIAN “CRISIS” TO WAR

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Washington is escalating the crisis and shepherding it toward war

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | INFOWARS.COM | JULY 25, 2014

Despite the conclusion by US intelligence that there is no evidence of Russian involvement in the destruction of the Malaysian airliner and all lives onboard, Washington is escalating the crisis and shepherding it toward war.

Twenty-two US senators have introduced into the 113th Congress, Second Session, a bill, S.2277, “To prevent further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes.” https://beta.congress.gov/113/bills/s2277/BILLS-113s2277is.pdf The bill is before the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Note that prior to any evidence of any Russian aggression, there are already 22 senators lined up in behalf of preventing further Russian aggression.

Accompanying this preparatory propaganda move to create a framework for war, hot or cold with Russia, NATO commander General Philip Breedlove announced his plan for a deployment of massive military means in Eastern Europe that would permit lightening responses against Russia in order to protect Europe from Russian aggression.

There we have it again: Russian Aggression. Repeat it enough and it becomes real.

The existence of “Russian aggression” is assumed, not demonstrated. Neither Breedlove nor the senators make any reference to Russian war plans for an attack on Europe or any other countries. There are no references to Russian position papers and documents setting forth a Russian expansionist ideology or a belief declared by Moscow that Russians are “exceptional, indispensable people” with the right to exercise hegemony over the world. No evidence is presented that Russia has infiltrated the communication systems of the entire world for spy purposes. There is no evidence that Putin has Obama’s or Obama’s daughters’ private cell phone conversations or that Russia downloads US corporate secrets for the benefit of Russian businesses.

Nevertheless, the NATO commander and US senators see an urgent need to create blitzkrieg capability for NATO on Russia’s borders.

Senate bill 2277 consists of three titles: “Reinvigorating the Nato Alliance,” “Deterring Further Russian Aggression in Europe,” and “Hardening Ukraine and other European and Eurasian States Against Russian Aggression.” Who do you think wrote this bill? Hint: it wasn’t the senators or their staffs.

Title I deals with strengthening US force posture in Europe and Eurasia and strengthening the NATO alliance, with accelerating the construction of ABM (anti-ballistic missile) bases on Russia’s borders so as to degrade the Russian strategic nuclear deterrent, and to provide more money for Poland and the Baltic states and strengthen US-German cooperation on global security issues, that is, to make certain that the German military is incorporated as part of the US empire military force.

Title II is about confronting “Russian aggression in Europe” with sanctions and with financial and diplomatic “support for Russian democracy and civil society organizations,” which means to pump billions of dollars into NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that can be used to destabilize Russia in the way that Washington used the NGOs it funded in Ukraine to overthrow the elected government. For 20 years Russian government negligence permitted Washington to organize fifth columns inside Russia that pose as human rights organizations, etc.

Title III deals with military and intelligence assistance for Ukraine, putting Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova on a NATO track, expediting US natural gas exports in order to erase European and Eurasian energy dependence on Russia, preventing recognition of Crimea as again a part of Russia, expanding broadcasting (propaganda) into Russian areas, and again “support for democracy and civil society organizations in countries of the former Soviet Union,” which means to use money to subvert the Russian federation.

However you look at this, it comprises a declaration of war. Moreover, these provocative and expensive moves are presented as necessary to counter Russian aggression for which there is no evidence.

How do we characterize a bill that is not merely thoughtless, unnecessary, and dangerous, but also more Orwellian than Orwell? I am open to suggestions.

Ukraine as it currently exists is an ahistorical state with artificial boundaries. Ukraine presently consists of part of what was once a larger entity plus former Russian provinces added to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Soviet leaders. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia permitted Ukraine’s independence, under US pressure Russia mistakenly permitted Ukraine to take with it the former Russian provinces.

When Washington executed its coup in Kiev last year, the Russophobes who grabbed power began threatening in word and deed the Russian populations in eastern and southern Ukraine. The Crimeans voted to reunite with Russia and were accepted. This reunification was grossly misrepresented by Western propaganda. When other former Russian provinces voted likewise, the Russian government, kowtowing to Western propaganda, did not grant their requests. Instead, Russian president Putin called for Kiev and the former Russian provinces to work out an agreement that would keep the provinces within Ukraine.

Kiev and its Washington master did not listen. Instead, Kiev launched military attacks on the provinces and was conducting bombing attacks on the provinces at the moment the Malaysian airliner was downed.

Washington and its European vassals have consistently misrepresented the situation in Ukraine and denied their responsibility for the violence, instead placing all blame on Russia. But it is not Russia that is conducting bombing raids and attacking provinces with troops, tanks, and artillery. Just as Israel’s current military assault against Palestinian civilians fails to evoke criticism from Washington, European governments, and the Western media, Kiev’s assault on the former Russian provinces goes unreported and uncriticized. Indeed, it appears that few Americans are even aware that Kiev is attacking civilian areas of the provinces that wish to return to their mother country.

Sanctions should be imposed on Kiev, from which the military violence originates. Instead, Kiev is receiving financial and military support, and sanctions are placed on Russia which is not militarily involved in the situation.

When the outbreak of violence against the former Russian provinces began, the Russian Duma voted Putin the power to intervene militarily. Instead of using this power, Putin requested that the Duma rescind the power, which the Duma did. Putin preferred to deal with the problem diplomatically in a reasonable and unprovocative manner.

Putin has received neither respect nor appreciation for encouraging a non-violent resolution of the unfortunate Ukrainian situation created by Washington’s coup against a democratically elected government that was only months away from a chance to elect a different government.

The sanctions that Washington has applied and that Washington is pressuring its European puppets to join send the wrong information to Kiev. It tells Kiev that the West approves and encourages Kiev’s determination to resolve its differences with the former Russian provinces with violence rather than with negotiation.

This means war will continue, and that is clearly Washington’s intent. The latest reports are that US military advisors will soon be in Ukraine to aid the conquest of the former Russian provinces that are in revolt.

The presstitute nature of the Western media ensures that the bulk of the American and European populations will remain in the grip of Washington’s anti-Russian propaganda.

At some point the Russian government will have to face the fact that it doesn’t have “Western partners.” Russia has Western enemies who are being organized to isolate Russia, to injure Russia economically and diplomatically, to surround Russia militarily, to destabilize Russia by calling the American-funded NGOs into the streets, and in the absence of a coup that installs an American puppet in Moscow to attack Russia with nuclear weapons.

I respect Putin’s reliance on diplomacy and good will in the place of force. The problem with Putin’s approach is that Washington has no good will, so there is no reciprocity.

Washington has an agenda. Europe consists of captive nations, and these nations are without leaders capable of breaking free of Washington’s agenda.

I hope that I am wrong, but I think Putin has miscalculated. If Putin had accepted the
former Russian provinces requests to reunite with Russia, the conflict in Ukraine would be over. I am certain that Europe would not have joined Washington in any invasion with the purpose of recovering for Ukraine former provinces of Russia herself. When Washington says that Putin is responsible for downing the Malaysian airliner, Washington is correct in a way that Washington doesn’t suspect. Had Putin completed the task begun with Crimea and reunited the Russian provinces with Russia, there would have been no war during which an airliner could have been downed, whether by accident or as a plot to demonize Russia. Ukraine has no capability of confronting Russia militarily and had no alternative to accepting the reunification of the Russian territories.

Europe would have witnessed a decisive Russian decision and would have put a great distance between itself and Washington’s provocative agenda. This European response would have precluded Washington’s ability to gradually escalate the crisis by gradually turning the temperature higher without the European frog jumping out of the pot.

In its dealings with Washington Europe has grown accustomed to the efficacy of bribes, threats, and coercion. Captive nations are inured to diplomacy’s impotence. Europeans see diplomacy as the weak card played by the weak party. And, of course, all the Europeans want money, which Washington prints with abandon.

Russia and China are disadvantaged in their conflict with Washington. Russia and China have emerged from tyranny. People in both countries were influenced by American cold war propaganda. Both countries have educated people who think that America has freedom, democracy, justice, civil liberty, economic wellbeing and is a welcoming friend of other countries that want the same thing.

This is a dangerous delusion. Washington has an agenda. Washington has put in place a police state to suppress its own population, and Washington believes that history has conveyed the right to Washington to exercise hegemony over the world. Last year President Obama declared to the world that he sincerely believes that America is the exceptional nation on whose leadership the world depends.

In other words, all other countries and peoples are unexceptional. Their voices are unimportant. Their aspirations are best served by Washington’s leadership. Those who disagree–Russia, China, Iran, and the new entity ISIL–are regarded by Washington as obstacles to history’s purpose. Anything, whether an idea or a country, that is in the way of Washington is in the way of History’s Purpose and must be run over.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Europe faced the determination of the French Revolution to impose Liberty, Equality, Fraternity upon Europe. Today Washington’s ambition is larger. The ambition is to impose Washington’s hegemony on the entire world.

Unless Russia and China submit, this means war.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

NATO Poland base may be prepared for blitz against Russia

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NATO’s Europe commander advocates stockpiling a base in Poland with enough weapons, ammunition and other supplies to support a rapid deployment of thousands of troops against Russia, British media reported.

General Philip Breedlove’s idea would be presented to members of the alliance at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales in September, according to The Times.

The general told a briefing in Naples this week that NATO needed “pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces.”

NATO’s top commander in Europe General Philip Breedlove (AFP Photo / John Thys)NATO’s top commander in Europe General Philip Breedlove (AFP Photo / John Thys)

Several locations for the future stockpile are planned, with the Multinational Corps Northeast, a base in Szczecin near the Polish-German border being the leading contender.

“It would be a 24/7 fully functioning headquarters that forces could quickly fall in on to respond rapidly when needed,” the British newspaper cites a source familiar with the expected proposition as saying.

Breedlove has been advocating a build-up of NATO assets in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis in the secession of Ukraine’s Crimea to Russia. The alliance has already strengthened its presence in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea and deployed additional military aircraft in Eastern Europe. It said the moves were needed to boost the confidence of eastern NATO members in the alliance’s ability to protect them from Russian aggression.

Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers check their weapons as they participate in training exercises with paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland May 1, 2014 (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers check their weapons as they participate in training exercises with paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland May 1, 2014 (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)

The stockpiling of supplies is just a step short of a permanent massive deployment of foreign NATO troops in Poland. The alliance says it is needed for a rapid response to a Russian incursion, although Russian generals would probably view this as a possible preparation for a blitzkrieg attack on Russia.

Moscow considers the build-up of NATO troops in Europe as part of a hostile policy aimed at placing the alliance’s military resources closer to its borders. Russia’s current military doctrine allows the use of all weapons in its possession, including tactical nuclear weapons, in response to a conventional force attack on Russia.

Obama administration sending military advisers to Ukraine within weeks

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​The United States is reportedly preparing to send a team of military advisers into Ukraine to assist with revamping forces there in the midst of the ongoing crisis between government-loyal troops and an anti-Kiev militia.

On Tuesday this week, the Washington Times reported that a spokesperson for the US Department of Defense confirmed plans to put Pentagon advisers in Ukraine.

“Within the next few weeks, a group of Defense Department representatives who specialize in strategy and policy will head to Kiev to evaluate specific programs that the United States may want to help bolster,” reporter Maggie Ybarra wrote for the Times.

The newspaper says that Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, told the Times that the objective of sending DoD advisers overseas is to “shape and establish an enduring program for future US efforts to support the Ukrainian military through subject-matter expert teams and long-term advisers.”

RT reported previously back in early June that US military advisers were being offered to Kiev “to help Ukraine build highly effective armed forces and defense institutions” and to “shape and establish an enduring program for future US efforts to support the Ukrainian military through training, education and assistance.”

Last month’s announcement came after the White House approved more than $23 million security assistance to Ukraine in a matter of weeks. As the crisis in eastern Ukraine intensifies, however, particularly in the aftermath of last week’s tragic plane crash that cost the lives of nearly 300 civilians, the US is once again reportedly offering assistance, this time by way of providing Pentagon advisers.

“Clearly, we have an interest in what happens in Ukraine and it’s far better to have an idea of where we can maximize any support we are willing to provide,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) told the Times this week.

“It’s important to keep in mind that one of the reasons we’re sending people over there now to help them establish enduring programs is because they don’t have enduring programs,” one defense official told the paper on condition of anonymity. “So two months ago, when they generated their request list, that list wasn’t a result of a well-established defense strategy.”

On Wednesday this week, The Daily Beast went even further by alleging that those earlier requests made by Kiev to the Pentagon were for “sensitive equipment to jam the radars that Russian anti-aircraft systems use to lock their missiles on planes.”

According to Eli Lake at the Beast, a former senior US official said on condition of anonymity that Kiev officials last month specifically “requested the radar jamming and detection equipment necessary to evade and counter the anti-aircraft systems Moscow was providing the country’s separatists.”

Col. Warren, the Pentagon official who confirmed to the Times that DOD advisers were being sent abroad, told the Beast that “The Ukrainian government has requested support, but we’re not going to detail the types of support they have requested.”

Questions over why Malaysian plane flew over Ukrainian warzone

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Published time: July 18, 2014 10:48

As the world tries to cope with the tragic loss of almost 300 people in the apparent downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine, questions have arisen over why the civil aircraft was directed over a war zone.

MH17, carrying passengers from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed on Thursday in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region, the scene of intensive battles between Ukrainian troops and local militias defying Kiev’s rule. In the last several days the militias scored a number of successes, including the reported downing of three Ukrainian military aircraft.

Despite the violence on the ground and apparent danger to aircraft, the Malaysian airliner was directed to pass right over the warzone and was apparently shot down by a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile fired by a Buk-type launcher. No one has claimed responsibility for the act, which resulted in the largest loss of life in the Ukrainian armed conflict so far.

“There are still question to answer like why this plane was flying over that area, whether it was on the correct flight path. It was flying over a war zone where missiles have been fired. It’s a war zone, so why was it flying over there?” blogger and writer Neil Clark asked in an interview with RT.

Now airlines and regulators are declaring Ukraine a no-go zone, but before the tragedy the route over Donetsk Region was considered safe for civil aviation despite the violence on the ground. Last week Ukraine closed the airspace in its east to traffic flying at altitudes of 7,900 meters or lower, but MH17 was flying at 10,600 meters.

Militias have been using relatively simple anti-aircraft weapons like shoulder-fired SAMs, which can engage targets up to 3,500 meters high, which apparently was good enough reason for airlines and Ukrainian traffic controllers to allow high-flying planes over the restricted area.

“MAS had used this route for years and it had always been safe. Fifteen out of 16 Asean Pacific airlines and even some airlines from Europe fly that route,” Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said at a media conference on Friday. “There were no last minute instructions to change the flight path to a different route.”

Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight paths on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as reported by flightaware.comMalaysian Airlines MH17 flight paths on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as reported by flightaware.com

The carriers had good reason to fly over Ukraine, because it’s the shortest route between many European countries and large cities in Southeast Asia. Shorter fly paths means less fuel spent and larger profits from the airlines. Hundreds of flights passed Ukraine daily before the conflict there escalated, and the traffic remained quite intensive before Thursday’s tragedy.

What’s peculiar about MH17 is that the ill-fated flight was different from its usual path over Ukraine. According to data at flightaware.com, a website tracking civil aviation traffic, the flight on Thursday diverted about 200km north from the paths the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 had used in previous days. And it led the plane right over the war-torn Donetsk Region.

So far no official explanation has been given as to the unusual flight path. But a conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the airspace above Crimea may have played a role. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAN), a UN watchdog, considers the airspace over the region part of Ukraine’s national traffic control responsibility. Russia has contested this ever since the former Ukrainian region became part of Russia.

Amid the conflict most carriers avoid flying through Crimean airspace. Malaysian Airlines is no exception, and MH17 flights were usually routed over the Azov Sea northeast of Crimea or over the Black Sea to the south of it. If flying over the Azov Sea was not available for some reason on Thursday, the carrier could have been advised by Ukrainian traffic control to divert the flight further north.

US readies to impose unilateral sanctions on Russia

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Officials in the United States called European Union ambassadors this week for a closed-door meeting in the White House to urge their governments to impose tougher sanctions on Russia over the situation in Ukraine.

If European countries refuse America’s request, however, the Obama administration is reportedly ready to announce so-called sectorial sanctions on its own.

Three unnamed government officials who participated in the meeting confirmed to Bloomberg that the US is ready to act unilaterally as early as this week.

Representatives for European nations are currently in the midst of meetings in Brussels at the EU Summit, and on Wednesday they reportedly plan to announce the imposing of additional sanctions against Russia, according to the Associated Press.

But if “EU officials fail to enact strong sanctions,” the AP reported out of Washington early Wednesday, the US may take its own actions.

At the Brussels meeting, all 28 member-states of the EU must agree on what sanctions will be lobbed against Russia. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the week that that European leaders are expected to end that conference with the announcement of “modest” measures aimed at Russian businesses tied to the current crisis in Ukraine, and early Wednesday a draft document was published by Bloomberg News alleged to contain the EU’s conclusions concerning imminent action against Russia.

The Mistral-class helicopter carrier (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)The Mistral-class helicopter carrier (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)

The French government particularly demands that the latest sanctions target new individuals or entities and do not hit entire sectors of the Russian economy. France has a $1.6 billion military contract with Russia and is supposed to deliver two ‘Mistral’ class helicopter carriers within the next years. Along with France also Italy, Slovakia, Greece and Austria reportedly voiced objections to broader sanctions.

Nevertheless, the EU “condemns the continuation of illegal activities by armed militants in eastern Ukraine,” the draft says, and the 28-nation bloc will “proceed with the expansion of restrictive measures.”

Moscow has been hit with rounds of sanctions already from the international community in response to Russia’s accession of Crimea in March after the majority of the peninsula’s population voted on the referendum to join the Russian Federation. Western countries also accused Putin’s government of providing military and logistic assistance to separatists in Eastern Ukraine — a claim that Russia categorically denies.

Now as the EU prepares to make a formal announcement concerning new sanctions against Russia, the AP’s sources say Washington will respond if necessary with actions of its own.

“Until now, the US has insisted on hitting Russia with penalties in concert with Europe in order to maximize the impact and present a united Western front,” Julie Pace reported for AP on Wednesday.

“The European Union has a far stronger economic relationship with Russia, making the 28-nation bloc’s participation key to ensuring sanctions packages have enough teeth to deter Russia,” Pace added. “But those same economic ties have made Europe fearful that tougher penalties against Russia could boomerang and hurt their own economies. After weeks of inaction, the officials say the US is now prepared to move forward alone if EU officials fail to enact strong sanctions during a meeting Wednesday in Brussels.”

Previously, the US has announced sanctions against dozens of Russian officials and businessmen, as well as multiple banks and energy companies.

Bloomberg News’ sources say that most likely future US sanctions will ban sales of dual-use technologies to targeted Russian entities and bar financial institutions from buying assets of some Russian banks in an attempt to prevent them from getting access to world financial markets. Other measures are also on the table.

Meanwhile, Russia reportedly is preparing a harsh response if such actions are taken by the US or EU member states. On July 8, Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said, according to Bloomberg, that Russia would prepare “serious countermeasures” if the sectorial sanctions are imposed.

Putin Orders Military On Combat Alert

Putin Orders Military On Combat Alert

Combat drill to involve 5,500 pieces of military equipment

By With assistance from Terry Atlas Jun 21, 2014 10:34 AM CT

Russia put more than 65,000 troops on combat alert and ordered them to take part in a drill a day after Ukraine called a week-long cease-fire to quell violence in the eastern part of the country.

The Russian drill is the biggest since the country annexed the Black Sea Crimean peninsula in March. The U.S. has accused the government in Moscow of aiding the separatists and this week imposed sanctions on people linked to the insurgency.

The dispute is flaring as American and European officials warn that more painful penalties affecting Russia’s access to financial markets, technology and military hardware may come as early as next week if President Vladimir Putin refuses to curb tensions. North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. officials have said this week that Russia was renewing its military buildup near the Ukrainian border.

“The fact remains that Kiev and Moscow are at daggers drawn,” Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London, said by e-mail. “Russia’s latest military maneuvers throw the extent of the distrust and suspicion between both sides into sharp relief.”

Russia dismissed Ukraine’s declaration of the cease-fire as an “ultimatum,” spurring officials from the European Union and Germany today to call again on Putin to support the peace plan.

Military Readiness

Putin put troops in Russia’s central military region on full combat alert and ordered them to take part in a test of military readiness that is to last through June 28 and will also involve 5,500 pieces of military equipment, Vladimir Anikin, a spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, said by phone.

In Kiev, the Foreign Ministry denounced Russia’s latest military activity, saying it “does not help to normalize the situation in Ukraine and to implement peaceful initiatives by the Ukrainian authorities,” according to an e-mailed statement.

Russia on the other hand said it was concerned that Ukraine was boosting its military operation, Interfax reported, citing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

Act ‘Adequately’

While Ukraine seeks a peaceful solution to the conflict, its military is ready to act “adequately” if the cease-fire is violated, President Petro Poroshenko said today in a statement on his website. The peace plan has “powerful support” from European and U.S. leaders, he said.

Ukraine called on all fighters to lay down arms, halting the offensive against rebels from 10 p.m. yesterday until 10 a.m. on June 27, according to the president’s website.

The proposal lacks “the main ingredient — an offer to start negotiations,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Pro-Russian militants expressed skepticism the truce will be implemented.

Militants stirred fighting in at least seven different places overnight, which left nine border troops and one Russian customs official wounded, and an unspecified number of militants killed, Ukrainian authorities said today.

U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday spoke by phone with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, agreeing in separate conversations that the U.S. and European Union would “impose costs” on Russia if it doesn’t work to deescalate the situation, the White House said in an e-mailed statement.

‘Hold Accountable’

The U.S. “will continue to take action to hold accountable those persons engaged in efforts to destabilize Crimea and eastern Ukraine,” Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement. “These individuals have all contributed to attempts to illegally undermine the legitimate government.”

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned seven individuals, including the acting governor of Sevastopol in Crimea and separatist leaders in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Broader measures are being readied against the finance, defense and technology industries, two U.S. officials said.

The U.S. is levying penalties for the first time since April 28, when it sanctioned people and companies linked to Putin’s inner circle. Russia risks further measures when EU leaders meet next week unless it helps end the unrest to support an emerging peace plan, Merkel said yesterday.

Tougher Sanctions

European diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said consensus has emerged within the 28-member group during the last week that tougher sanctions may be warranted when EU leaders meet June 26-27 in Brussels if Putin fails to abide by earlier pledges.

“All parties” will need to “actively promote” the implementation of the peace plan, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at a news conference in Tallinn today. “We in particular call on the Russian Federation to use all its influence to this end and to support this plan publicly and through concrete actions.”

Merkel’s comments reflect an effort by EU powers to gain leverage over Putin by using Poroshenko’s cease-fire as a trigger for expanded sanctions if Putin doesn’t cooperate.

The U.S. and the EU have imposed sanctions on people and companies close to Putin, while threatening the government in Moscow with unspecified economic penalties as pro-Russian separatists clash with Ukrainian forces.

Overnight Fighting

Fighting continued overnight as the cease-fire call came into effect when six Ukrainian border guards and one Russian customs officer were wounded as militants opened fire at the Izvaryne check point, Ukrainian State Border Service said in a statement on its website today. Militants also shot at troop base near Vyselky village in the Donetsk region, stirring fighting and leaving two border troops injured, according to the service.

Road Block

A Ukrainian road block was shot at near Slovyansk this morning, Defense Ministry spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said on his Facebook account.

Poroshenko’s 15-point peace plan includes early parliamentary and local elections, job creation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and freeing all seized buildings and abducted people, according to the statement.

Before the cease-fire can be implemented, Ukraine must reassert control over its border with Russia, across which fighters have crossed, according to Poroshenko.

Russia is increasing security because it’s concerned about the situation on the border, though it’s not building up troop levels, Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign-policy aide, said yesterday.

The separatists are willing to consider the plan, according to Andrei Purgin, a deputy premier of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.

“If we see a true cease-fire, we may stop our actions as well,” he said by phone. “But I think there will be no cease-fire. In practice these statements are only political.”

Obama chastises Romney for calling Russia a threat, wanting troops in Iraq

Oh well. No matter. He won anyway.

Remember when Russia was invading the Crimean peninsula, and some of us reminded you that President Obama had chastised Mitt Romney two years ago for calling Russia a strategic adversary to the United States? Well that wasn’t all Obama got smugly loud about in that foreign policy debate. He also took serious exception to the notion that the U.S. should keep troops in Iraq. Here is some of that exchange:

Now there’s now way to prove that, had Romney been elected, he would have taken the necessary steps to prevent the ISIS incursion. But at least we can say from this exchange that Romney had a clear view of the problem, which is more than we can say for Obama. Here is a more complete transcript:

OBAMA: Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

But governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.

You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq. But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. And the — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy — but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it. You said that, first, we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan. Then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends, which means not only were you wrong, but you were also confusing in sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.

So, what — what we need to do with respect to the Middle East is strong, steady leadership, not wrong and reckless leadership that is all over the map. And unfortunately, that’s the kind of opinions that you’ve offered throughout this campaign, and it is not a recipe for American strength, or keeping America safe over the long haul.

SCHIEFFER: I’m going to add a couple of minutes here to give you a chance to respond.

ROMNEY: Well, of course I don’t concur with what the president said about my own record and the things that I’ve said. They don’t happen to be accurate. But — but I can say this, that we’re talking about the Middle East and how to help the Middle East reject the kind of terrorism we’re seeing, and the rising tide of tumult and — and confusion. And — and attacking me is not an agenda. Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this violence.

But I’ll respond to a couple of things that you mentioned. First of all, Russia I indicated is a geopolitical foe. Not…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Excuse me. It’s a geopolitical foe, and I said in the same — in the same paragraph I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia, or Mr. Putin. And I’m certainly not going to say to him, I’ll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election, he’ll get more backbone. Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed I believe that there should be a status of forces agreement.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Oh you didn’t? You didn’t want a status of…

OBAMA: What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East.

ROMNEY: I’m sorry, you actually — there was a — there was an effort on the part of the president to have a status of forces agreement, and I concurred in that, and said that we should have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I concurred with…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: Governor…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …that your posture. That was my posture as well. You thought it should have been 5,000 troops…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: Governor?

ROMNEY: … I thought there should have been more troops, but you know what? The answer was we got…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: … no troops through whatsoever.

OBAMA: This was just a few weeks ago that you indicated that we should still have troops in Iraq.

ROMNEY: No, I…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …I’m sorry that’s a…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: You — you…

ROMNEY: …that’s a — I indicated…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: …major speech.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …I indicated that you failed to put in place a status…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: Governor?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …of forces agreement at the end of the conflict that existed.

OBAMA: Governor — here — here’s — here’s one thing…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: …here’s one thing I’ve learned as commander in chief.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: Let him answer…

OBAMA: You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean. You just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the Middle East.

Now, it is absolutely true that we cannot just meet these challenges militarily. And so what I’ve done throughout my presidency and will continue to do is, number one, make sure that these countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts.

Number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel’s security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region.

Number three, we do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious minorities and women because these countries can’t develop unless all the population, not just half of it, is developing.

Number four, we do have to develop their economic — their economic capabilities.

But number five, the other thing that we have to do is recognize that we can’t continue to do nation building in these regions. Part of American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation building here at home. That will help us maintain the kind of American leadership that we need.

Obama never really explained why keeping forces in Iraq wouldn’t help us in the Middle East. I don’t think he really had a reason in mind. He just figures that if the idea bothers him, it must not be helpful. That’s pretty much the way Obama constructs his entire foreign policy. If something feels like a drag to do, don’t do it, and if all kinds of problems result, they must not be problems worthy of his attention.

The only real question that matters is this: Would ISIS be overrunning Iraq today if Obama had signed a status of forces agreement? Of course not. Iraq is vulnerable today because Obama never wanted Iraq to be his problem, and Obama only pays attention to the things he wants to pay attention to, not the things that global events dictate he has a duty to tend to.

Not only was Obama wrong about Iraq, but he was so arrogant that he took the liberty of condescendingly lecturing Mitt Romney for disagreeing with him. That’s a pattern with Obama, and so far he hasn’t been made to pay a political price for it. It appears, however, that everyone who lives in Iraq may be about to pay a huge price for Obama’s ignorance and arrogance.